On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle in history began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk
, on the western border of the Soviet Union
, a region that had acquired vital strategic importance for Hitler’s war in the east. Code named “Operation Citadel,” the German offensive would unite Nazi forces from the north and south, cutting through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany
’s retreat at the battle of Stalingrad
. Well-informed about Germany
’s plans through their network of spies, the Soviets spent months preparing. Two million men supported by 6,000 tanks, 35,000 guns, and 5,000 aircraft convened in Kursk
in the days leading up to battle.
The explosive clash on the first day devolved into a quagmire of localized fighting. Several days later the engagement reached its pinnacle at the small southern village of Prokhorovka
, where a fleet of state-of-the-art German Panzer tanks collided with the Soviet Fifth Guards Tank Army Reserve in the biggest tank battle in history. By the end nearly half of the 850 tanks involved had been destroyed and tens of thousands of men had died. The death count for the eighteen-day battle was staggering: over 360,000 men lost their lives, an average of 20,000 a day. Despite suffering seven times more casualties, the Soviets won a decisive victory that became a turning point not only on the eastern front but in the Second World War as a whole. The Battle of the Tanks
is storytelling and military history at its finest, dropping the reader into the cockpits and tanks as the battle unfolds and into the war rooms where Hitler, Stalin, and their generals maneuver for strategic dominance. With unprecedented access to the journals and testimonials of the officers, soldiers, political leaders, and citizens who lived through it, The Battle of the Tanks
is the definitive account of an epic showdown that changed the course of history.